Broccoli So Good It Jumps into Your Mouth

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For recipes, click the links in the photo captions above.

It was Frank who put the pressure on Angela. His only interest at the table was meat. Her specialty in the kitchen was vegetables. But somehow my aunt finally got my uncle, a used-car salesman, to swallow broccoli with gusto.

With her Italian knack for turning simple vegetables into tasty fare, she served it sautéed with garlic in olive oil, breaded and deep fried, blanched and tossed in a colorful salad of potatoes and roasted red peppers, and in an open-faced pie with ricotta and mozzarella. She made broccoli frittatas and pasta with broccoli and garlic. Sometimes she would roll the broccoli in prosciutto and broil it. She called it saltimbroccoli, playing on an Italian rolled veal and prosciutto dish called saltimbocca. Loosely translated, it means good enough to jump into your mouth.

I enjoyed watching her cook. She taught me the secret of perfect al dente broccoli. Place the head in a pot of cold salted water and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, and remove immediately. Stems are most delectable when peeled. After the broccoli is blanched or parboiled, use a paring knife to cut in anywhere along the outside edge of the stem. With the skin between the blade and your thumb, pull back away from the florets toward the bottom of the plant.

And just remember, as Frank said after he’d seen the light, “A meal without broccoli is like a car without a radio.”

by John Okas
October 1998
from issue #17

posted in: broccoli